DOD Force Mix Issues:

Greater Reliance on Civilians in Support Roles Could Provide Significant Benefits

NSIAD-95-5: Published: Oct 19, 1994. Publicly Released: Oct 19, 1994.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Mark E. Gebicke
(202) 512-5140
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) guidance and decisionmaking processes for determining when and whether to use civilian or military personnel in support positions, focusing on: (1) DOD and the military services' efforts to replace military personnel in support positions; (2) whether the services have adequately planned for the future use of civilian employees and contractor personnel to support military operations in combat areas; and (3) the actions taken to correct problems concerning civilian deployments to the Persian Gulf War.

GAO found that: (1) although DOD and the services have attempted to convert military positions to civilian positions, the extent of these changes appears limited, since the ratio of military personnel to civilian personnel has not changed significantly; (2) replacing military personnel with civilian employees could reduce military personnel costs and release military members for use in combat-specific duties; (3) some DOD-sponsored studies have determined that civilian employees in peacetime support functions cost the government about $15,000 less per year than military employees in comparable pay grades; (4) service officials are reluctant to replace military personnel with civilian employees because the military is downsizing, they believe they can exert greater control over military personnel, they often do not receive sufficient funds or information to support civilian replacements, and budget allocation and civilian personnel requirement decisions are often made separately; and (5) the services have made efforts to correct some of the problems identified during the Persian Gulf deployment, but they have not identified their future potential wartime requirements for DOD civilian employees or contractor personnel or taken adequate steps to ensure that these personnel remain in the services for future crises.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD's April 1995 revised directives on Civilian Workforce Contingency and Emergency Planning discuss various requirements for emergency essential civilians to included in contingency plans. They also broadly state that civilian workforce shall be prepared to respond rapidly, efficiently, and effectively to meet all contingencies. The directives also require an annual review of civilian workforce contingency requirements to assess sufficiency of numbers, skills and experience, and where shortfalls occur, explore joint alternatives to alleviate such shortfalls.

    Recommendation: The service secretaries should direct commanders of major support organizations to establish time frames for reassessing their needs for emergency-essential civilian employees. The commanders should expeditiously purge existing lists of administrative persons to prevent unnecessary spending on training for persons who will not deploy to theaters of operation. The commanders should ensure that emergency-essential civilians: (1) receive appropriate training, including basic survival skills; (2) participate in job-related DOD-wide training exercises; and (3) are otherwise prepared to deploy to combat areas when needed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In April 1995, DOD issued two directives on its Civilian Workforce Contingency and Emergency Planning Guidelines and Procedures. These directives clarify organizational responsibility for mobilizing the DOD employee civilian workforce, but they did not fully address contractors. As of August 1996, DOD planned no further action on contingency planning for contractor support.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense and the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, should clarify organizational responsibility for ensuring that civilian support to military operations is considered during contingency planning processes. These officials should direct operational planners to integrate civilian requirements for DOD civilian employees and contractor personnel into appropriate plans for deploying forces to combat areas.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In April 1995, DOD issued two directives on its Civilian Workforce Contingency and Emergency Planning Guidelines and Procedures. These directives clarify organizational responsibility for mobilizing the DOD employee civilian workforce, but they did not fully address contractors. As of August 1996, DOD planned no further action on contingency planning for contractor support.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense and the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, should clarify organizational responsibility for ensuring that civilian support to military operations is considered during contingency planning processes. These officials should direct operational planners to integrate civilian requirements for DOD civilian employees and contractor personnel into appropriate plans for deploying forces to combat areas.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Joint Chiefs of Staff

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD's May 8, 1995, report to the Senate and House National Security Committees identified several factors that support the need for military positions, including ongoing peacetime military operations. As of August 1996, DOD had closed its case on this recommendation and maintains that no major civilianization effort should be undertaken until the Defense workforce begins to stabilize near its ultimate post-Cold War level. DOD succeeded in getting partial relief from a requirement by the House National Security Committee to convert 10,000 military positions to civilian during FY 1996. GAO made a similar recommendation in a follow-up report (NSIAD-97-15) on force mix issues. In responding to that recommendation, DOD reiterated that it planned to take no action to convert large numbers of military positions to civilian because of uncertainty about obtaining sufficient civilian funds to pay for such conversions.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the services to identify military positions that should be replaced with civilians and eliminate, to the extent possible, existing impediments to using civilians when they would be less costly.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD reported to the House and Senate National Security Committees in May 1995 that the services had completed an occupational analysis of civilian and military workforces. This analysis, like the GAO report, indicated that a large percentage of support positions are filled by military members, offering opportunities to civilianize many positions. However, DOD concluded that it is counterproductive to seek an increase in civilian positions while the total workforce continues to contract. Accordingly, DOD plans no major civilianization efforts until the Defense work begins to stabilize near its ultimate post-Cold War level.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should establish a joint review board and provide it with a mandate to work with the services to ensure a thorough and consistent review of military support positions that may have potential for conversion to civilian.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  6. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD plans no further action on Directive 3020.37, "Contractors Performing Essential Combat-Support Functions."

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should clarify the type of assistance, such as deployment processing, training, transportation, housing, or care in-theater, that DOD will provide to contractors who perform essential, combat-support functions. The Secretary should also direct the service secretaries to establish time frames for identifying contractors and the personnel who provide essential combat-support services, and initiate actions to ensure that such personnel will be prepared to deploy to combat areas, if needed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Dec 19, 2014

Dec 16, 2014

Dec 12, 2014

Dec 11, 2014

Dec 1, 2014

Nov 21, 2014

Nov 20, 2014

Nov 19, 2014

Nov 18, 2014

Looking for more? Browse all our products here